People with diabetes face a much
Long lasting blood sugar fluctuations and related diabetes side effects aren’t widely reported by people receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots.
However, some people with both type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) have experienced brief blood sugar spikes after receiving one of the doses.
Here is what to know about navigating COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots when you live with diabetes.
Yes, experts recommend people with diabetes get vaccinated against COVID-19.
These are the COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States.
- U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, released their first vaccine in mid-December 2020 for people ages 16 and older. After the first shot, a second dose is required 21 days later. This vaccine was
approvedfor use in children ages 12 and older in May 2021. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)granted full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in August 2021. It’s fully approved for ongoing use for everyone 12 years and older. A third dose, or booster, is also available for people 5 years and older.
- U.S. biotech company
Modernareleased its vaccine in late December 2020. It’s approved for use in adults 18 years and older. This vaccine also requires two shots, with a 28-day period before the second dose. A booster is available as well.
- Pharmaceutical company
Johnson & Johnson (J&J)released its vaccine after getting FDA approval in late February 2021. This one is different than the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. It only requires a single shot versus two separate doses. It also does not require storage at very cold temperatures, as the others need. Read more details on the J&J vaccine here.
Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are
In turn, this produces antibodies that protect us from developing an infection if the real virus enters our bodies.
Coincidentally, one of the key scientists behind the technology driving mRNA vaccines actually lives with T1D himself.
The need for COVID-19 vaccines has become increasingly important, with new coronavirus variants gaining traction and
According to the CDC, COVID-19 boosters are shots that enhance or restore protection against COVID-19. Protection may decrease over time since the first and second vaccine doses.
Boosters and diabetes
Experts encourage the following people to get a booster shot:
- Everyone 5 years and older should get one booster after completing their primary vaccination series.
- People eligible for a second booster include adults 50 years and older, as well as kids 12 years and older who are considered
moderately or severely immunocompromised(e.g., receiving cancer treatment, organ transplant recipients).
The timing of each booster may depend on each person’s particulars, including age and whether they are immunocompromised. The
Short answer: Yes, they are safe.
After clinical trials that included tens of thousands of people, the
However, the CDC did issue
“People with autoimmune conditions may receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. However, they should be aware that no data are currently available on the safety of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for them. Individuals from this group were eligible for enrollment in clinical trials.”
While some allergic reactions have been reported, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) are extremely rare.
People living with diabetes are not generally considered “
However, officials do recognize that having diabetes does matter in terms of COVID-19 risk.
At first, the CDC prioritized T2D over T1D as far as COVID-19 vaccine access. But in April 2021, the CDC revised its guidelines to prioritize both T1D and T2D at the same level.
This CDC’s change followed months of advocacy, especially from 19 diabetes organizations that signed a letter urging the CDC to immediately prioritize T1D alongside T2D.
The most common side effects of COVID-19 vaccination are not specific to diabetes. They include:
- tenderness, swelling, and redness at the injection site
- muscle aches
While experiences of those with diabetes may vary when it comes to vaccine effects, diabetes advocates crowd-sourced this topic to better track what people with diabetes have experienced post-vaccination.
The nonprofit Beta Cell Foundation began collecting data with an online database in early 2021. It gathered hundreds of responses from people who’ve gotten one or both vaccine doses:
- After receiving their first vaccine dose (Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech), approximately 10 to 15 percent reported elevated blood sugars for a day or two. After their second dose, 23 to 29 percent reported elevated sugars.
- After vaccination with the J&J vaccine, 42 percent had elevated sugars.
- Two percent reported lower blood sugars, and one person reported both higher and lower blood sugars (perhaps a combo of both, due to shifting glucose levels).
- After receiving the second vaccine, approximately 30 percent reported elevated blood sugars, and less than 1 percent reported lower blood sugars.
- No significant differences were reported based on the type of vaccine received, Moderna versus Pfizer-BioNTech.
If someone does have a severe reaction to a vaccine or booster shot, it’s best to consult with a doctor or healthcare professional who knows your health situation.
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are considered safe. Experts encourage people with diabetes to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because of the higher risk of severe illness from the disease.
While the vaccines and boosters are not guaranteed to affect glucose levels, some people living with diabetes do report minimal changes in their blood sugars.
Each person’s need and timing for a COVID-19 booster may vary. Talk with a doctor if you have any concerns about your diabetes management and COVID-19 vaccination.